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Interview with writer, Veronica Henry (conclusion)

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

VH. I sure hope not! I think books make a home, and are a big part of us. You can tell a person by the books they have on their shelves. They make wonderful gifts too. My books are my most treasured possessions. I don’t feel so emotional about my Kindle!

Q. What makes a writer great?

VH. If they can make you laugh and cry. And if you recognize the characters in the book, even if they are from two hundred years ago.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

VH. I write a book a year, so ideally it would be two months brainstorming and researching, six months for a first draft, two months for a second draft and then the rest of the time finessing. But it’s quite a fluid process. The most intense period is the second draft -that’s when the book really falls into place but it’s emotionally draining and you need to really concentrate to get the most out of your material.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Dinner party at sunset

VH. I live by the sea, so I spend a lot of time at the beach. Either walking the dog, or swimming (I swam all the way through winter without a wetsuit!) or hanging out with my friends with a picnic and a bottle of wine as the sun goes down. I love to cook, so I love to have the time to make a really special dinner. We have a great fishmonger near us, so right now it’s all about the crab and the lobster. I’ve just made a white chocolate and raspberry cake – it’s in the oven!

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

VH. I’ve spent a long time building up a career in my genre so it would be crazy to just switch – although I know a lot of authors who have gone over to crime or thrillers recently. I like people to feel good when they finish reading my books, so I’m going to stick with it!!

Veronica cooks to relax

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

VH. Everything comes back into fashion eventually!

Did you miss Part 1?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry and October: Life Coach, shaman, author, Jennifer Monohan.
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Interview with Author, Veronica Henry (part 2)

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

VH. It’s a bit like going to a party. You meet the host, and then they introduce you to all their friends. You see someone on the sidelines and think ‘Oooh they look interesting’, and then go over and have a chat. Quite often the people who seem interesting to start with turn out to be rather dull, and the quiet ones are the ones with hidden depths.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

VH. I was a total bookworm, as my father was in the army so we moved every two years, and books were my constant. And my favourite character was Jo March from Little Women. So I always loved creative writing at school. But working on the Archers was the first time I realized that everyone needs an escape in their life, to get away from reality, and that made me fall in love with storytelling and view it as a career.

One of this Interviewer’s favorites

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

VH. Usually the characters in a particular setting – I love to set my books somewhere my reader would like to be – and then I start asking myself where they are in their life. What dilemmas do they have? What would they like to change about their lives? What has just happened to them that has upset the apple cart and what are the consequences? And I ask myself where I’d like them to be – metaphorically – by the end of the book.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

VH. It goes in phases, but quite often I act out what I am imagining to myself, much to my children’s amusement. Or walking along the beach muttering away to myself, like The French Lieutenant’s Woman. I just need a black cape with a hood!

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Henry’s view from her window

VH. My next book is called The Impulse Purchase about a 70 year old woman who buys the pub in the village she grew up in, on impulse. Her daughter and granddaughter join her to run it, and they turn it around – and change their lives in the process. It was such fun to write, especially the family dynamics. And the food!

Wonderful series

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

VH. When I became a TV script editor. I often had to rewrite parts of the scripts – often for logistical reasons – and wrote the storylines too. TV is a very hungry beast and uses up a lot of material so you have to be prolific.
                                                           *********

The conclusion August 27th
Did you miss the beginning segments of this wonderful Interview?
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Interview with British Author, Veronica Henry

As an army child, Veronica went to eight different schools, including the Royal School Bath, where she learnt Latin, how to make rock buns and how to take her bra off without getting undressed. She went on to study Classics at Bristol University, followed by a bi-lingual secretarial course – a surprisingly useful combination. Veronica started her career as a secretary on The Archers, a long running radio drama, typing scripts, then moved on to television and became a script writer. When she had her first child she jumped over the fence and became a script writer, then turned to writing novels in 2002, “as books were always my first love.”

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?  Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

VH. Now two of my children have left home I’m lucky enough to have a dedicated office space. I have a huge desk to spread out all my papers and research and the books I’m reading. There are inevitably piles of paperwork and proofs to read and one day I will sort it all out so it is calm and organized! It has a sea view, which is great, and is very light and airy. I have to work in silence – no music, even though music is a big part of my life.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

VH. The most important thing is to make sure my hair is tied up – with anything!! I can’t stand it falling into my face while I work. I have my

dog, Zelda, named after Zelda Fitzgerald, on a sheepskin rug under the desk.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

VH. I went to school in the States for three years and had the accent to prove it! It’s faded now but I still say ‘gas’ and ‘trash’ instead of ‘petrol’ and ‘rubbish’

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

New Release

VH. I  love making notes with a black pen and a narrow feint notebook at the beginning of the process – somehow it makes me think more creatively. But then I work straight into the computer. I don’t use a special app but have recently discovered the navigation pane which really helps knowing where I am in the document.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

VH. I’m a lark and prefer to get straight on with writing first thing, after I’ve walked the dog. My energy dips after lunch, so that’s when I go over what I’ve already written or do some light reading! I cannot work in the evening to save my life.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

VH. Just grasp the nettle, I’m afraid. The fear is worse than the reality. We all do it, but I can’t afford to procrastinate too much. I view writing as a business. Most other professions don’t have the luxury of procrastination. Imagine your dentist faffing about before getting on with your check up!

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Join Us For Part 2 of this Wonderful Interview
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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Book Review ~~ Miss Delectable by Grace Burrowes

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   5 out of 5 quills    

When you pick up a book written by Grace Burrowes you are one hundred percent certain you are in store for a good story. Filled with interesting characters and an fascinating plot.  Full stop! 
 
Grace Burrowes has begun a new series, Mischief in Mayfair. Miss Delectable is Book One, and it’s delicious!  Rag-a-muffin rapscallions abound with a hero who rescues them and the damsel in distress.  Book Two, Miss Delightful, is to be released shortly.
Burrowes is very prolific in this genre and what is amazing is how FRESH her plot lines remain.  She is constantly thinking of new story lines that have not been done before. 

Miss Pearson has dedicated years to learning the exacting science of the culinary arts.  She will never hold the title of ‘chef’ as that is strictly reserved for men. She will always be a ‘cook’, no matter how talented and creative she is.  It is, after all, only the 19th century. 
Colonel Sir Orion Goddard is Miss Pearson’s employer’s brother by marriage. They are slightly acquainted and really have no reason to meet each other. Persistent, vague scandal and rumors have haunted Goddard and being a recluse solves many of his problems.  That is, until his young protégé needs placement and only his brother-in-law’s kitchens will do. 

Burrowes gives her readers a good tale, characters that are deeply drawn, a little intrigue and a sweet love story. Recurring individuals keep her fans very happy. 

Available Soon! Miss Delightful  (9/14/21)

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy, August: Veronica Henry.
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Book Review ~~ The Iron Earl by KJ Jackson

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1 out of 5 quills          ~~    BOOK REVIEW

My biggest complaint with this book was how shallow the story plot was. Pages and pages of how the heroine needed to escape. She was pretty much ‘one note’. Then pages and pages of how rage-filled the hero was. Boring. Mixed in were graphic sex scenes with little romance. The first time for this virgin was just this side of a rape. 
A missed opportunity for the author was to include a sub-plot exploring the relationship between Karta and Dommnel. Their story was interesting and a thread that was, sadly, not pulled by Jackson.
The villain is predictably the step-father until (handily in the last 30 pages) Evalyn discloses that she knows who her real father is and, conveniently, he is of aristocratic blood and owns land and she is his heir. This is sprung on the readers with no backstory of how she discovered her biological father. Sloppy writing. Sigh

The contents did not live up to the beautiful cover. 

Did you miss my Interview with Grace Burrowes?

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Book Review ~~ the stepsisters by Susan Mallery

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    4 out of 5 quills   ~~  A Book Review 

Susan Mallery delivers again. This author can do no wrong.
Families are complicated on any given day and certainly even more so when dads marry again and create a brand new stepsister for their daughter. Sometimes expectations are high; amidst the ruble of a divorce, sometimes girls long for the connection of a new sibling. Sage is lovely and graceful and popular; Daisy is not.  Sage didn’t have Daisy’s smarts.  Threatened by this, Sage put Daisy down at every opportunity.  Daisy was crushed by Sage’s hostility. So went the teenage years. Then Daisy did the unforgivable; she falls for and marries Sage’s first time love. Heartbroken, Sage can’t flee fast enough.  

Almost two decades later the now-grown women are thrown together again. But they must put aside all of their history for a familial common cause. 

 Another great story filled with human foibles. Well drawn characters who the reader will like to hate or stand up and cheer for.  I highly recommend this book to my readers. 

Did you miss my interview with Susan Mallery? 

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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Interview with Jenny Colgan, Writer (part 3)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

JC. Yup, I have a full slate. I am working on a new Mure book for next summer, An Island Wedding, then coming out in June 2021 is Sunrise, a new Little Beach Street Bakery novel. And in October A Christmas Bookshop is coming out, which is set in Edinburgh and I really hope people are going to love it. We had so much snow in Edinburgh this winter and it just looked gorgeous so I wrote throughout the winter. And if we can pop it into the schedule, there’s a fourth boarding school book ready to go.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JC. I have always written seriously. Seven-ish or so?

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JC. No, but I am quite old. I think everything shook down; some people, like me, adore their kindles and the flexibility of carrying a library at your fingertips, some people tried it and went straight back to paper books. So it’s kind of balanced out.

Find the Dog!

Q. What makes a writer great?

JC. Well, I would consider myself a very decent writer, as are most professionals. There are barely any greats. The ones that are… I suppose they somehow touch on something in the human condition that is common to all of us, that immediately helps us understand the state of being human better.

Fairy tale home

I would say A Tale of Two Cities teaches us more about the ability of a human being to sacrifice themselves for others better, and certainly more entertainingly, than any science course, psychology textbook, survey or questionnaire ever devised. Pride and Prejudice has the plot of Cinderella yet somehow, at its essence, cracks the nut of what it is to fall in love better than anything else ever has. CS Lewis presented a world of wonder, of awe, to countless millions of children. To find inside one writer an entire world is an extraordinary- and crushingly rare.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

JC. Two hundred cups of coffee.

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

JC. Oh, hugely. The Mure novels came out of me having to move back to Scotland when my mother was dying; you can really

Another fav of mine…and it’s a trilogy!

see it in the first one. I started writing lots of children in my books when I had my own children and realised that people often write children very badly, make them sassy little know it alls, rather than the adorably curious drunks most small kids behave like all the time.

Q. What’s your down time look like?

Princess daughter

JC. Piano playing, reading watching Buffy with my two youngest- we’re going through everything, we did Lost through lockdown, and Merlin, but Buffy is the big obsession at the moment. My husband is a mean bb-quer. We have been locked down for so long though, I cannot wait to reclaim all the stuff I used to love- I absolutely adore a party, a book festival, a big get together of friends and writers, travelling to new places. All of that stuff. I like most things.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

JC. I do, I write sci fi as Jenny T. Colgan. I don’t really believe in genre but it helps publishers know where to put you.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

Nobody is ever thinking about you, they’re obsessing about their own shit, like ALL DAY. So get on and do whatever the hell it is you want to do, nobody gives a rat’s ass.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Interview with author, Jenny Colgan (part 2)

TS.  As my readers know, I am (1) a voracious reader and (2) always looking for new (to me) authors. My first exposure to Jenny was
The Cafe by the Sea. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t certain that I would continue to buy her books. So quirky; I hadn’t before  heard this particular ‘voice’ in an author.  15 books (and counting) later, I admit to being a girl-fan.  I love her stories! The characters are real people trying to stumble through life, as we all are, as best we can. So imagine my joy when this prolific and busy author agreed to be interviewed. And she was so generous with her answers! 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JC. You don’t have to do it if you don’t want to. Lots of people think they’d like to be writers, but then just can’t get it done, and you know what, that’s fine, that’s okay, go do something else, don’t make yourself miserable. I wanted to be a stand up comedian, but I hated every single second of being onstage, and I realized I just wanted to call myself a stand up, I didn’t actually want to do the work. That’s fine. There’s plenty of books out there already, there’s absolutely no need to do it if you don’t want to, so find something else fun to do.

If you really want to, you’ll set your wordcount in your head, even if it’s only 500 words a day, and you’ll do it. Somehow. They never have to be your best words, they don’t even have to be any good. All that kind of stuff you fix in the edit. Your first draft you just have to find the momentum to get 1000 words down every day for 80 days, then look at what you have at the end.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

Husband, Andrew

JC. All over the place. Sometimes bits and pieces of people I’ve met, sometimes I just start them off and see. I’m writing a character now who is very beautiful. I wanted them to be difficult and impossible, but actually that didn’t work at all.

What turned out to be much more interesting are normal people’s reactions to someone who is extremely beautiful. It isn’t her fault at all; other people just become really weird around her when she’s in the room, and her experience of life is different from most people’s. So, they develop as you go. I worked with a scientist last year- I don’t usually meet a lot of scientists in my line of work- and he never said anything unless he knew it was absolutely a fact, the case. You could see the gears working in his brain every time he was asked for an opinion on anything. And I thought, that’s interesting, and wrote a character (who isn’t based on my colleague at all) who has that kind of rigorous thought process.

Q. What tools do you begin with? (from last week)

Sketch of Mure

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing…..

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JC. Oh I was just a massive bookworm. Writing books is the closest you get to reading books your entire life. I write the kind of books I absolutely love reading and if I can’t find a book I want- eg a series for adults set amongst teachers in a boarding school- I just go write it myself.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JC. The situation, generally. ‘What if you were a refugee and posted to a remote Scottish island?’ ‘What if you lost everything and could only get a really lowly job in a bakery?’ ‘What if you met an alien?’. Things I think might be interesting.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Another favorite

JC. Yeah, sometimes. Generally near the end of something. Not always, and it doesn’t have a huge effect on the work, really, I mean I don’t think the reader could tell the points where I’ve got very obsessed with it, but sometimes I get completely wrapped up in them and can’t think about anything else. My husband can always tell. 🙂

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

Did you miss Part 1 of this in-depth interview?

Don’t Miss part 3 of this spectacular Interview with Jenny. Coming May 21st. 
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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The Jenny Colgan Month ~~ Author Extraordinaire!

TS. Jenny Colgan, a Scottish lass, has a unique voice as a writer….quirky, fresh and bright. She left university in the 90s and started working for the NHS in administration, whilst always loving comedy and working on ‘funny things’- cartooning, a bit of stand up (horrible and very nerve-wracking); sketch writings and so on. She went on to write my first novel, Amanda’s Wedding, as a comedy novel and she was surprised when it got published. She’s gone on to write around 35 novels…she says she’s lost count. 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provide a photo of you at work in your shed, room, closet, barn, houseboat….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

JC. I work in coffee shops, or I did before the pandemic. I like the white noise, the sense of life happening all around you; I like that you can’t stay there too long or it’s rude, and I like that they bring you a sandwich. In fact I’m just about to head off to my nearest one, which has a stunning view of Edinburgh Castle and lets me take my dog in.

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

JC. No I think that kind of thing can be very dangerous for writers, and certainly is for wannabe writers. You end up living in an isolation box, driven mad by the noise of your own fridge. Instead, be a soldier about it and learn how to work anywhere, the way they learn to go to sleep on command.  Aeroplanes are good places to work, trains are terrific.

Once when the children were little I took them to see Chicken Run in an otherwise empty cinema. I snuck up to the back row and worked on a manuscript there. It had rather more chickens in it than my agent was expecting, but otherwise it worked absolutely fine. If I turn up ten minutes to pick up the kids from school, I can get 500 words in if I have to. Momentum is very important to novelists, so clear anything that can hold you up, like thinking you need a special notebook or whatever.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

All written by Jenny

JC. I find writing quite easy, but I find playing the piano very difficult. I probably spend about as much time playing piano and worrying about it as I do thinking about my books.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JC. Sometimes I like to sketch my characters to get a view for what they look like and what they’re doing. If I’m a bit stuck, I’ll start drawing. I also keep a file of pictures from actors, people in the news who look a bit like my characters in my head. Otherwise it’s straight to the keyboard, wordcount at the ready. I’ll write 2,500 in a sitting or 3000 divided into two sittings depending on where I am with deadlines.

Perfect son, perfect dog

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

JC. Yeah, about 11.30am I like to start. So I have time in the morning to drink coffee, read the internet, get the kids to school, walk the dogs and take some exercise, shower, practice my scales. I’ll work till about 2 ish depending on how the word count is going.

 

 

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

Join us, May 14th,  for Part 2 of this wonderful Interview

Watch for my reviews!
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan, June: Don Bentley writing for Tom Clancy.
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Research Can Unearth Some Surprises!

Nazi codes in the hem of a dress?

After reading Susan Elia MacNeal’s Mr. Churchill’s Secretary I was inspired to write a short play about Winston Churchill and hisChurchills.Cat.BookCoverImage cat, Nelson.   Ms. MacNeal referred, in passing, to Mr. Churchill’s pets being allowed free rein to wander the war rooms at #10 Downing Street during Churchill’s time in office.  I could clearly see  the rotund, shambling figure of the Prime Minister with two pugs yapping at his heels while Admiral Nelson, the cat, sat high atop a side table. Silently observing his human and the general hysteria of the dogs.

Churchill was a master not only in crafting the English sentence but also in the coinage of words.  His tongue-in-cheek comment:  “A fanatic is one who won’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” is a favorite of mine.  In a World War I speech, (1914) Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty coined the phase ‘business as usual’.  Saying the maxim of the British people is “business as usual.”  Churchill gave the world the phrase: “Iron Curtain” in his speech in Missouri in 1946 when he said, “…..an iron curtain has descended across the continent.”

Having grown up during the post-war years, I knew something of Mr. Churchill.  A historic figure that was a great statesman, orator and leader.  But I really knew nothing of the man.  And once again, (as I have mentioned before) I began a project and then started my research.

Mr. Churchill’s Secretary, (which I highly recommend) is fiction but based in fact.  Ms. MacNeal was fortunate enough to have several interviews with Churchill’s private secretary before her death.  The book is about a ‘typist’ who was relegated to a menial job because of her gender.  She was actually educated in mathematics and cryptology and could easily have fitted in with MI-Five (British CIA) but for her being a woman.  The novel’s heroine, Maggie, saves the Prime Minister from certain death by breaking a Nazi code.  And this brings me to the fashion advert that actually ran in the London Times and was full of Nazi messages.  All the stitching (around sleeves and hem) was Morse code for attacks at #10 Downing and St. Paul’s cathedral. 

“German spies hid secret messages in drawings of models wearing the latest fashions in an attempt to outwit Allied censors during World War Two, according to British security service files. Nazi agents relayed sensitive military information using the dots and dashes of Morse code incorporated in the drawings. They posted the letters to their handlers, hoping that counter-espionage experts would be fooled by the seemingly innocent pictures. But British secret service officials were aware of the ruse and issued censors with a code-breaking guide to intercept them.”  (actual advert from the London Times).

If not for my love of reading, my passion for writing, and the need for research, I would never have delved into Churchill’s life and his time in office. (my interests don’t generally take that path).  It’s an unexpected delight to learn more about this amazing statesman.  He was quirky, irritable, brilliant, and very funny.

And all because I had begun writing a short play about Mr. Churchill and his cat!  I love when that happens!!

(Originally published 2013)
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My weekly BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!    January: Madeline Hunter, February: Mike Lupica, March: Lee Matthew Goldberg, May: Jenny Colgan
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